The All-Satisfying Object

John Piper: Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4) The quest for pleasure is not even optional, but commanded (in the Psalms): “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). The psalmists sought to do just this: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1–2). “My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). The motif of thirsting has its satisfying counterpart when the psalmist says that men “drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; and You give them to drink of the river of Your delights” (Psalm 36:8, NASB). I found that the goodness of God, the very foundation of worship, is not a thing

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Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, and World Missions

This post is adapted from Andrew Fuller: Holy Faith, Worthy Gospel, World Mission by John Piper. Natural Inability and Moral Inability In his most famous work, The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, Andrew Fuller piles text upon text in which unbelievers are addressed with the duty to believe.[1] These are his final court of appeal against the High Calvinists, who use their professed logic to move from biblical premises to unbiblical conclusions. But he finds Jonathan Edwards very helpful in answering the High Calvinist objection on another level. Remember, the objection is that “it is absurd and cruel to require of any man what is beyond his power to perform.” In other words, a man’s inability to believe removes his responsibility to believe (and our duty to command people to believe). In response to this objection, Fuller brings forward the distinction between moral inability and natural inability. This was the key insight which he learned from Jonathan Edwards, and he

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6 Truths that Will Lead You to True Joy

This post is adapted from Quest for Joy, a short-form tract by John Piper: 1. God created us for his glory. Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth . . . whom I created for my glory. (Isaiah 43:6-7) God made us to magnify his greatness—the way telescopes magnify stars. He created us to put his goodness and truth and beauty and wisdom and justice on display. The greatest display of God’s glory comes from deep delight in all that he is. This means that God gets the praise and we get the pleasure. God created us so that he is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. 2. Every human should live for God’s glory. So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31) If God made us for his glory, clearly we should live for his

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The Essential Warfare for Holiness

One of the great points the Puritans saw in Scripture is the connection between happiness and holiness. For them, to be perfectly holy would be to be perfectly happy. Pastor John, how would you articulate this connection between happiness and holiness? John Piper: My approach will be slightly different, because the more I think about Christian Hedonism, the more careful I am in phrasing this connection. Happiness is part of holiness, so that if you tried to describe what it means to be a holy person and left out happiness in God, you couldn’t do it. There is no such thing as holiness minus happiness in God. Happiness in God is the essence of holiness. God’s holiness is God’s being supremely valuable. That is his holiness. God infinitely delights in his infinite delightfulness because otherwise he would be a liar. He would be unrighteous. And so his holiness is being infinitely delightful and delighting infinitely in his infinite delightfulness. Our holiness

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A Beginner’s Guide to ‘Free Will’

John Piper: Before the fall of Adam, man was sinless and able not to sin. For God “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). But he was also able to sin. For God had said, “In the day that you eat of it [the tree] you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). As soon as Adam fell into sin, human nature was profoundly altered. Now man was not able not to sin. In the fall, human nature lost its freedom not to sin. Why is man not able not to sin? Because on this side of the fall “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” (John 3:6), and “the mind of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7–8, my translation). Or, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:14, “The natural

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Preach to Yourself

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11) John Piper: We must learn to fight despondency. The fight is a fight of faith in future grace. It is fought by preaching truth to ourselves about God and his promised future. This is what the psalmist does in Psalm 42. The psalmist preaches to his troubled soul. He scolds himself and argues with himself. And his main argument is future grace: “Hope in God! — Trust in what God will be for you in the future. A day of praise is coming. The presence of the Lord will be all the help you need. And he has promised to be with us forever.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones believes this issue of preaching truth to ourselves about God’s future grace is all-important in overcoming spiritual depression. Have you realized that

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We Experience the Spirit Through Faith

John Piper: If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25) The Spirit came to you the first time when you believed in the blood-bought promises of God. And the Spirit keeps on coming, and keeps on working, by this same means. So Paul asks, rhetorically, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5). Answer: “By hearing with faith.” Therefore, the Spirit came the first time, and the Spirit keeps on being supplied, through the channel of faith. What he accomplishes in us is through faith. If you are like me, you may have strong longings from time to time for the mighty working of the Holy Spirit in your life. Perhaps you cry out to God for the outpouring of the Spirit in your life or in your family or church or

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10 Reasons Jesus Came to Die

  John Piper: 1. To destroy hostility between races. The suspicion, prejudice, and demeaning attitudes between Jews and non-Jews in Bible times were as serious as the racial, ethnic, and national hostilities today. Yet Jesus “has broken down . . . the dividing wall of hostility . . . making peace . . . through the cross” (Ephesians 2:14–16). God sent his Son into the world as the only means of saving sinners and reconciling races. 2. To give marriage its deepest meaning. God’s design was never for marriages to be miserable, yet many are. That’s what sin does . . . it makes us treat each other badly. Jesus died to change that. He knew that his suffering would make the deepest meaning of marriage plain. That’s why the Bible says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). God’s design for marriage is for a husband to love his

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What You Admire Is What You’re Becoming

It is one of the most fundamental dynamics of our lives: We are always becoming like what we most adore. And yet when we look at ourselves, what we adore so often fluctuates in intensity all throughout the day, and yet, in Christ, we are progressing toward maturity in him. John Piper explains how all this dynamic works together from 2 Corinthians 3:18 in a recent sermon. Here’s what he said. John Piper: This is so variable, I am tempted to say it is just incalculably variable; meaning, the morning and the mid-morning and noon and the afternoon and the night are all different. Your heart for God is different at 10:00 a.m., and noon, and 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. It is different. Your emotions are just like this. Nobody lives like this. Nobody. And from week to week and month to month and year to year — and saints are allowed to move into seasons of great darkness,

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The Danger of Drifting Away

John Piper: Seventeen Aspects of Holy Dissatisfaction One mark of Christian authenticity is discontentment with anything less than “all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). Coasting is not discipleship. Drifting in self-contentment is not like basking in the pool of security, but like floating, fast asleep, toward the falls. “We must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away” (Hebrews 2:1). There is a holy discontentment. It is not a nail-biting uncertainty about our standing with God. It is the increased appetite of those who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2–3). It is the pursuit of those who have been pursued and captured by the strong arms of love. “Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).

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The Goal of Missions May Not Be What You Think

Chase Bowers & Scott Zeller: What happened on January 2, 1998, altered the course of my (Chase’s) life. Along with thousands of other college students, I attended the second Passion conference, which was then a new series of gatherings seeking to raise a banner for God’s glory. I heard John Piper preach for the first time, and what he communicated about God’s heart for the nations—specifically the idea that he was gathering for his fame a people from among all peoples—was paradigm-shifting for me. Afterward I began digging into Piper’s now-classic book on missions, Let the Nations Be Glad (Baker). It opens with groundshaking words: Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. This paragraph profoundly changed what

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Your Sin Is Not What You Think

This is an adapted excerpt from John Piper’s book Living in the Light: Money, Sex and Power (The Good Book Company, 2016), posted at The Gospel Coalition. The human heart hates a vacuum. We never merely leave God because we value him little; we always exchange God for what we value more. We see this in Romans 1:22–23: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images.” They became fools. This is the ultimate foolishness. This is the most foundational meaning of sin: exchanging the glory of the immortal God for substitutes—anything we value more than God. We look at the Creator and then exchange him for something he created. My Definition of Sin Underneath all the misuses of money, sex, and power is this sinful heart-condition—this depravity. My definition of sin is this: any feeling or thought or action that comes from a heart that does not treasure God over all

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Truer Knowledge Brings Greater Joy

And all the people went their way . . . to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them. (Nehemiah 8:12) John Piper: The only joy that reflects the worth of God and overflows in God-glorifying love is rooted in the true knowledge of God. And to the degree that our knowledge is small or flawed, our joy will be a poor echo of God’s true excellence. The experience of Israel in Nehemiah 8:12 is a paradigm of how God-glorifying joy happens in the heart. Ezra had read the word of God to them and the Levites had explained it. And then the people went away “to make great rejoicing.” Their great rejoicing was because they had understood words. Most of us have tasted this experience of the heart burning with joy when the word of God was opened to us (Luke 24:32). Twice Jesus said that he taught his disciples for the sake

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Complete Assurance for Incomplete People

John Piper: By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) Two things here are mightily encouraging for us in our imperfect condition as saved sinners. First, notice that Christ has perfected his people, and it is already complete. “For by one offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” He has done it. And he has done it for all time. The perfecting of his people is complete and it is complete forever. Does this mean that Christians don’t sin? Don’t get sick? Don’t make mathematical errors in school? That we are already perfect in our behavior and attitudes? There is one clear reason in this very verse for knowing that is not the case. What is it? It’s the last phrase. Who are the people that have been perfected for all time? It is those who “are being sanctified.” The ongoing continuous action of the Greek present

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A Peculiar Glory

John Frame’s commendation of John Piper’s latest book, ‘A Peculiar Glory – How the Christian Scriptures reveal their complete truthfulness’: A Peculiar Glory is a solid theological and exegetical treatment of biblical authority, but much more. Besides the standard arguments, Piper has developed (with the help of Jonathan Edwards) a profoundly original yet biblical approach to the question. It raises the traditional arguments to an exponential level of cogency. Piper says that our most definitive persuasion comes from actually seeing the glory of God in his Word. Theologians have traditionally called this the ‘internal testimony of the Holy Spirit,’ but that theological label does little justice to the experience, the awareness of the glory of God as we meet Jesus in Scripture. That really happens. It is astonishing and powerful. And it explains the difference between an observer’s merely theoretical faith and a true disciple’s delighted embrace of Christ. This doctrine of Scripture is worthy of the overall emphasis of

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The Lion is also the Lamb: A Reflection on what makes Jesus so Irresistibly Attractive

Sam Storms: What is it about Jesus that makes him worthy of your adoration and praise? What is it about Jesus that makes him irresistibly attractive? Why is he alone worthy of your whole-hearted allegiance and love? Consider one answer from the portrait of Jesus in Revelation 5. In Revelation 5:5 he is called “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” but in Revelation 5:6 is also portrayed as the “Lamb” who had been slain, though now standing, because alive. So, which is he? Both! Jesus is both Lion and Lamb. And it is in this glorious juxtaposition of what appear to be two contrasting images that we find the answer to our question. Think about this for a moment: The Lion in whom we find unimpeachable authority is also the Lamb who embodies humility and meekness in the highest degree. The Lion who wields power and strength that none can resist is also the Lamb who walked this earth

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Why Going to Church Does Not Make You a Christian

I am not a Christian because I attend church on Sunday. Neither are you. And neither is John Piper. This was a discovery Piper made in the opening pages of a book by C. S. Lewis. In God’s providence, a thin little blue book by the title of “The Weight of Glory” found its way into Piper’s life at age 23 (recently photographed, above). Here’s how he recounted the story in a 2015 sermon. John Piper: The second wave that broke over me in my 23rd year was the discovery that my desires were not too strong, but too weak. And the remedy for my early perplexity did not lie in getting rid of my desires, but on glutting them on God. That was revolutionary to me. Your problem, longing, aching, yearning, wanting, John Piper, is that you don’t yet want like you ought to want. I will come to you and I will put a fire under the fire

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Obedience is the Secret to Joy

  John Piper: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). So we have a great promise: He will give you the desires of your heart. And we have a command: Delight yourself in the Lord. The command is the condition of the promise. So delight yourself in me, God says, and I will satisfy your heart. Somebody asked me one time: Should you pursue joy or should you pursue obedience? And I said, “That is like saying, ‘Should you pursue apples or should you pursue fruit,’ because if you obey the command — Delight yourself in the Lord — you are pursuing joy and so obedience and joy can’t be contrasted like that.” We are called upon to delight ourselves in the Lord. And here is a big glitch for a lot of people. You can’t enjoy a God that you are not sure is for you. If you have

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Enjoying His Fullness

John Piper: From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. (John 1:16) Just before the service last Sunday, the little band of praying saints was hard at work fighting for the faith of our people and for the churches of the Twin Cities and for the nations as they prayed. At one point one man prayed the words of John 1:14–16: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. It was one of those epiphany moments for me. God granted in that moment that the word “fullness” — from his fullness — carry a fullness that was extraordinary in its effect on me. I felt some measure of what the word really carries — the fullness of Christ. I felt some of the

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What Is Discipleship and How Is It Done?

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus; what is discipleship? John Piper: A couple of observations about the word. The word discipleship never occurs in the Bible. The term is ambiguous in English. It can mean my discipleship in the sense of my own pattern of following Jesus and trusting him and learning from him. That is my discipleship. It could mean that. Or it can mean my activity of helping others be disciples in that sense of learning from him, growing in him. The second meaning — this helping others — does have a verb in New Testament Greek: mathetuo, to make disciples. It can mean preach the gospel so that people get converted to Christ and become Christians and, thus, disciples. For example, Acts 14:21says, “When they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium.” So that “make disciples” is one Greek word there and

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